“Health is wealth” is an age old saying; but people seldom pause to think how they can operationalize this sublime saying in their life. After air and water, food is the most necessary thing in our life. Because it gives all the nutrients needed for our body. Again there is a saying “A healthy mind needs a healthy body”; note the body-mind relationship. For a healthy body we need energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Among these we pay attention only to the energy foods like rice, wheat, maize, jowar, ragi, oats, bajara and tuber crops like potato and tapioca. Whatever oil and fats we take also gives energy. For protein we mostly take various kinds of dals. Those who are non-vegetarians take meat and fish products. So more or less everyone gets enough energy and protein. But, the Indian population is much deficient in various vitamins and minerals which is why incidences of all types of diseases, mal and under-nutrition are so prevalent in our country. Deficiency in vitamins and minerals also cause mental and physical disabilities. Our hospitals are full of patients suffering from all types of diseases. Most of these sicknesses can be prevented by taking balanced nutrition. Both rich and the poor are landing up in the same hospital; both have no clear idea of balanced nutrition and the components of balanced nutrition. Following are the food items that should be included in our daily food to ensure all the 14 vitamins and 24 minerals.
Besides the energy and protein, food mentioned above everyone should consume one handful of cooked leafy vegetables, root vegetables and immature fruit and pod vegetables per day. Your hand is the measurement for measuring all types of food for yourself. Forget about gram and calories etc. which the nutritionists talk off. Take your hand as the measurement for your food intake. Now people may have problem in recognizing the “immature fruit and pod vegetables”. Brinjal, bitter gourd, pumpkin, cucumber, beans with pods, immature tomato etc. or any vegetable which do not belong to leaf and roots. Besides these every one should consume one handful of mixed salad and one handful of chopped mixed fruits. To cap it all take a spool full of chatni made of several herbs, spices and condiments. They include, curry leaves, mint, tulsi, ginger and coriander leaves, chilly and chilly leaves etc. Make chtani with a mixture of herbs, spices and condiments. Those who can afford take one egg a day or at least one in two days besides one cup of milk minimum in tea or coffee or in any milk products form. These simple nutritional principles are applicable to rich and poor, farmers and business people, young and old, sick and healthy. The women folk who mostly prepare food for the family should pay attention to this combination of balanced food. Mothers, sisters the health of your family members is in your hands. Understand clearly the components of balanced food and make sure that you provide your loved one with a balanced food every day. Remember all our recommendations are on a daily basis. The best is never have likes and dislikes in food intake. God/Nature has provided all food items for you; nothing is bad to anyone; every food item has a place in your precious health.
(Dr. K.T. Chandy is a retired professor,Environment and Natural Resource Management with Justice, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar)